Debian rocks!

I tried Ubuntu 9.04 the other day and was pretty upset with it. I had planned to install it alongside Sabayon 4.0 so that I could play around a bit. But it fell short of perfection – Firefox wouldn’t run, nor would my internet connection operate at full throttle. This put me off so I thought, “Why not install Debian”. I’ve seen rave reviews about Debian 5. One magazine, Linux For You, said that “it is the best valentine’s day gift for a Linux user.” in its March issue.

I have a habit of downloading every distro I stumble upon in the top distros list at DistroWatch. So I already had the install DVD on Debian at hand, and set upon installing it. The installation went fairly smoothly. And after running it for a few hours I wondered why I had not used it before – it was as stable as the Podhigai hills.(Wonder what that is? Podhigai hills in southern Tamil Nadu are among the oldest and most stable ranges in the world. Older and more stable than the Himalayas!) I had a few quirks though.

Firefox was rebranded as IceWeasel due to licensing issues. I don’t like this legalese and skipped it. And I wanted Firefox with all the branding intact. There was a page that helped me do this. This is what I did.

1. Downloaded Firefox from Get Firefox.

2. Opened up a terminal. Alt+F2, then gnome-terminal. I prefer the keyboard to the mouse.

3. Switched over to super-user mode:

$ su –

<Enter the Root Password>

4. Removed IceWeasel:

# apt-get remove iceweasel

5. Move Firefox setup archive to installation location, and move to that location:

# mv firefox-3.0.5.tar.bz2 /usr/lib/

# cd /usr/lib

6. Extract the contents of the archive:

# tar -jxvf firefox-3.0.5.tar.bz2

7. Add a link to the Firefox binary executable:

# ln -s /usr/lib/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox

That’s it! I had Firefox, with all the branding intact. Then I installed all the add-ons I use, imported my profile by copying it into my /home/user/.mozilla/firefox/profiles directory.

The next stumbling block for me was that any command that needed the display wouldn’t run as root. So I couldn’t use gedit to edit my /etc/fstab file. This was a real worry, I had five partitions which contained data I use everyday and I could not add them to the file. NetBeans would not install due to the same problem. I found another get-around:

First, as a normal user enter this command:

$ xhost +
<Shell says> access control disabled, clients can connect from any host

$ su
<Enter root password>

Now as super-user enter this command:
# export DISPLAY=:0.0

Voila, everything worked as it should. The to the customary editing of configuration files, which was not a big deal. The first file I edit is the sudoers file:

1. Switch over to super-user mode:

$ su

<Enter root user password>

2. Enter this command to edit the sudoers file:

# visudo

3. Now goto the line that says:

root ALL= (ALL) ALL

4. Copy the line as such, substituting your username for root:

user_name ALL=(ALL)ALL

Now, you can do any operation using sudo. You have the same privileges as the root user, that’s how I like it, but be forewarned that you need to be really cautious if you want to do this. Running some commands (sudo rm is a major cause of worries to new users.) might render your system unusable.

There is also an option in the sudoers file, which is commented by default:

# %sudo ALL=NOPASSWD: ALL

If you want to use sudo option without needing to enter your password, you can uncomment the line:

%sudo ALL=NOPASSWD: ALL

This is a good option for single-user systems such as mine, but beware if your system is used in a multi-user environment. In that case, this won’t be necessary, in fact it’ll be a security loophole!

My debian system has never crashed so far, so it is among the most stable systems around, I suggest you give it a try too!

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